High School Math is a Mess


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The adoption of the Common Core standards in public schools seems to have led to an identity crisis in high school math instruction. At kid #3’s school, pre-algebra, algebra (1 and 2 as far as I can tell), and geometry are no longer offered as separate classes. Now it’s Integrated Math I, II, III, and IV. Get through those and you’re on to Pre-Calculus, Calculus, AP Calculus. Well, that’s what I hear. I don’t expect to ever have firsthand or parental experience with Calculus.

From what I’ve seen of her assignments, Integrated Math smooshes everything together, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not a great way to learn brand new concepts. We used a fair amount of geometry in the two college algebra classes I took last year. But it was the easy, straightforward geometry: the Pythagorean Theorem, in particular. For students who’ve never learned the Pythagorean Theorem it wouldn’t have been so easy or straightforward. It would be hard to recognize the Theorem as a separate piece of geometry if you’d only ever seen it used as a part of algebra. I think.

It’s entirely possible that I’m just used to seeing things in the same way that I learned them. Kid #3 struggles with math and the integration is really not helping her. The math teachers all appear to need a sabbatical; they’re frustrated and tired. Last year’s teacher sent out angry emails to parents whenever he reached the end of his rope — which resulted in frantic text exchanges at school like this one:

Me: “Mr R is p*ssed. Show me your homework as soon as you get home. You did it, right??? You said you did it!!!”

Kid #3: “Calm down Moooommm. My team was the only one that did the homework.”

Oh yeah, the math classes are divided into teams which theoretically work together to learn. Kid #3 has math first period (just like last year) and nobody’s working together on anything at 7:10am.

It’s a goatrope.

This year’s teacher, Mrs. C, has a voice straight out of the Charlie Brown cartoons. Robotic with a side of snark. And she was voted “Most Intimidating Teacher” three years in a row.

It’s shaping up to be another long year mathematically.

The Happiness Unit


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Kid #3 started 10th grade last month (that’s how we roll here in the Land of the Modified Year-Round Schedule). I remain unconvinced that the new public school standards (Common Core) are a step forward in education, particularly in math instruction. However, the accelerated English classes rock.

The first unit in 10th grade accelerated English is all about happiness. The students have read a number of articles, scholarly and popular press, as well as watched documentaries and TedX talks to examine happiness from lots of different angles. Last week the class had a “Socratic seminar” (what we called a group discussion back in olden times) and discussed what the various sources claimed increased and decreased one’s experience of happiness.

I’ve been impressed with my 15 year old daughter’s insightful comments on happiness. She’s been exposed to concepts like does having a vast array of choices make one more happy (research says no. Having a lot of choices tends to lead to feeling overwhelmed and indecisive. Here and here). I think this unit has so much real world, lifelong applicability, even though I can hear my father grumbling in my head about California’s all-around silliness. Asking what makes us happy gives us the chance to examine our experiences, internally and externally, then perhaps change how we think or what we do with our time.

All this examination of happiness has prompted my daughter to initiate chats with me about family —- how she felt when her father left, how our family has changed, how much fun she and I have together. She has begun to use my maiden name hyphenated with her father’s name on her school assignments. I didn’t change my name back with the divorce; that was my choice with my name. I did, however, start using the hyphenated version. It’s not a legal name change, but it better reflects who I am.  She feels the same and it makes her happy to honor and connect with all her family.

What really blows my mind is that she saw my action (hyphenation in common usage), thought about it, and made a choice for herself. I only ever asked my three kids if they had an opinion about my changing back to my maiden name (results were mixed).  I didn’t even think to ask how they felt carrying their father’s name after his craptacular abandonment.

It’s a reminder to get out of my head and ask other people about their experience of life. Ask what someone else needs or feels instead of guessing or assuming. Maybe we’d both be a little happier.

The Ashley Madison Mess


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In case you missed it, adultery-for-profit website AshleyMadison.com (tagline: Life is short. Have an affair.) got hacked last month and the hackers threatened to release personal information on more than 37 million users if the company didn’t take down the site. The site stayed up and the data got dumped. In very short order, a number of websites popped up allowing people to input an email address to find out if it appears on the AshleyMadison list.

So, yeah, I typed in Voldemort’s primary email on one of these sites. My palms were sweating, my heart was pounding hard and fast, and my stomach dropped to the floor. I had an anxiety attack on almost the same level as the one I had before our settlement meeting two years ago. WTH? I thought I was over that emotional crap.

His primary email did not show up on the AM list. And I got the message my body was sending. I didn’t try to remember all of his other email addresses. I just got the hell off the site and went on with my day, which included several communications with other betrayed spouses doing the very same thing.

Why would we torture ourselves digging into that cesspool? I know my ex-husband was a lying cheater. Why did I go looking for more proof? I’m actually pretty happy being divorced now. When the fit hit the shan back in 2012, it was like a nuclear explosion in my life and in our family. It sucked and it sucked for longer than I would’ve thought. So why go back?

I don’t have an answer for that. I do, however, have seven words of advice if you find yourself married to a cheater: Life is short. Get a f**king divorce.

Other People’s Trash


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I have been reading The Nonconsumer Advocate for years. Katy regularly blogs about the incredible “free” piles in Portland, OR. These are small mountains of no longer loved items that Portlanders leave at the curb with a “free” sign. Katy has scored some amazing finds from these piles.

I try to go for a 3+mile walk in my neighborhood every morning and Tuesday is trash day ‘round here, so I often see what people are putting out at the curb for pickup. In my old neighborhood, it was protocol to put a “free” sign (in English and Spanish) on all the bulky items. In this neighborhood, the actual signs are rare, which is a shame. Here’s what I saw at the curb with the trash cans this week:

*Two large gas grills. I’ve never had a gas grill so I can’t say if there was something crucial missing from these, but it made me sad to see them landfill-bound.

*A crib mattress. Lest you think I’m being gross, this mattress was completely encased in plastic (as most crib mattresses are because babies leak) and would’ve been simple to disinfect and donate to Goodwill. Some young expectant mom would’ve been thrilled.

*A full-size mattress still wrapped in its original heavy plastic.

*A recumbent exercise bike. It looked well used, but unless there were missing parts I couldn’t see, it was still functional. Another item that could’ve gone to Goodwill instead of the landfill.

*A push lawnmower. I can only assume, based on the appearance of the drought-ravaged lawn of the house at the other end of the driveway, that the owner has decided to ditch the sod altogether. Goodwill would’ve taken the mower in a heartbeat.

*A cat scratching post that looked practically unused. I almost grabbed this for my cats but they already have three.

*Three office chairs at two different houses. The single black chair had worn pleather upholstery, but the pair of matching brown ones were in great shape. All three could’ve gone to Goodwill and been sold for $5-10 each.

That’s just what I noticed today and it wasn’t particularly unusual. I call my garage a pit of despair because I have all manner of stuff stacked up in piles that only make sense to me. Much of it is waiting for pickup or drop-off at Goodwill or the Salvation Army. I try to donate everything that’s still got some life left in it. I shop thrift stores on occasion and am usually pleasantly surprised at the treasures to be had.

What about you — do you put “free” signs on things at your curb? Does your city have designated days for putting out large, unwanted items for neighbors to take? Do you have regular garage sales? Have you ever noticed what other people consider trash?  What do you do with the stuff you no longer want or need?

No Comment, No Clue


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For almost a year now, I’ve been having problems commenting on the blogs I follow. I contacted WordPress and they were singularly unhelpful. For the most part when I type a comment and then hit the submit button, everything looks fine.

But the comment disappears as fast as my ex-husband. Just *poof.*

And before you think that I’m just irritating other bloggers and they’re too nice to say anything, a blogger buddy has the same issue. We’ve experimented commenting on each other’s blogs with the same results.

I’m at a loss how to fix this. It bums me out because a big part of the fun of blogging is comment interaction. Any IT ideas on making this better?

Chump Meetup


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little girls cry

One of the lingering effects of my divorce is social isolation. My married friends all faded away after Voldemort moved out, I don’t have outside employment, and we moved out of the neighborhood we’d lived in for 13 years. I signed up for Meetup.com to expand my horizons, but found that quite a few of the meetups were either for young moms or poorly disguised attempts to sell stuff.

I’ve made a lot of acquaintances through the college classes I’ve taken, but they’re “in the moment” kinds of relationships.

I finally signed up for the Chumplady.com forums and found a SoCal group. I was excited and a little hesitant to go to the planned lunch meeting this weekend, but I’m so glad I did. There were eight of us on the outdoor patio of a restaurant in Old Town (exactly what it sounds like, a part of San Diego devoted to making money from the city’s history, which is mainly Wild West cowboys and Spanish missionaries). Seven women and one man, all chumped by our cheating spouses. We ate, drank, and talked for more than five hours. It was awesome, fun, and educational.

First, I learned that having a cheater spouse really, really isn’t the chump’s fault. Every single one of us at that table was smart, funny, kind, and attractive. No one drove their poor, misunderstood spouse to adultery. I knew this intellectually, but seeing other people in the same boat, I finally accepted this truth into my bones.

I also learned that in so many ways, cheaters follow a playbook. There are habits and characteristics they pretty much all have in common. The lies they tell are similar, the excuses follow predictable lines, they really don’t have much imagination.

The imagination seems to come in with their selection of affair partners. One absolutely beautiful woman’s ex-husband had his last affair with a granny porn star. (I was captivated by this story. Granny porn is a thing? Yep. As best we can figure it’s porn starring women over 40. Uh-huh. In the porn industry over 40 = granny.) Best part? The stunningly pretty woman who spent 15 years with this cheater was laughing the whole time she told her story.

The pain was finite.

Sharing our divorce experiences was eye-opening. I now understand why my lawyer said I got the best divorce settlement she’s ever seen. I thought she was full of crap, but I don’t have to share custody with a man who shtupped our kids’ babysitter. I didn’t have to move out of the family home so a string of random women could move in. I really am very lucky in many ways, but especially custody. It’s been super easy to go no contact with Voldemort since he pretty much just disappeared. I’ve embraced my gratitude about that. It sucked for a long time, but everything is so much better now.

It was a gift to spend time with people who get it. They understand not wanting to date for now or maybe at all. There’s no surprise at the insistence to never re-marry. Those who are dating are doing so with eyes wide open and sense of humor intact.

I hope to see some of the local chumps again in smaller settings and become better friends. It was a relief to be able to let the scars and warts show — and laugh about it all.

Getting to it


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I got a phone call yesterday afternoon from my lawyer.

Her: Congratulations! As of July 2nd, you were legally, officially divorced.

Me: It took them a week to tell me?

Her: It took them nine months to do it, be grateful it only took them a week to let you know.

So the court finally got to it. Sheesh. And, of course, the fun (and legal bills) still aren’t over. There’s the QDRO, the life insurance, and the wage assignment. But at least I’m no longer legally bound to He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.


The Long and Winding Road to Final Judgement


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Recap of my divorce so far: Voldemort sent me an email announcing his imminent departure in March 2012 and moved out the next day. I was served with divorce papers in August 2013; our settlement meeting was in December 2013. The family home closed escrow in October 2014 and the signed final Marital Settlement Agreement was filed with the judge in November 2014.

In April 2015 our file was reportedly at the top of the judge’s pile.

In July 2015 the Court’s response to an inquiry as to status of the final decree was, “We’ll get to it when we get to it.”

We passed ridiculous months ago.  Now we’re in a previously undiscovered ring of Hell.

Sort, Purge, Repeat


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(An artistic representation of me and my garage…if my garage was a bit more organized)


The week after Voldemort moved out in Spring 2012, I got busy packing all of his belongings. My purpose was two-fold: I wanted to eradicate his presence in our home because it was pissing me off and bumming out the kids, and I’d changed the locks so I needed to be able to point him to the garage should he show up for his stuff (which never happened).

After I was served with divorce papers in Summer 2013, I emailed Voldemort multiple times to pick up his 50+ boxes of stuff (he finally did and has been bitching about the way I packed ever since). Then I started purging and packing to leave the marital home. We were moving from a 2,700 square foot single-family house to an 1,100 square foot townhome, so there was a lot of purging to be done. It took me more than 2 months with multiple Salvation Army truck pick-ups, a huge garage sale, more trips to Goodwill to drop off bags and bags of items, and one shamefully large truckload to the dump to get things down to a manageable level for the new place.

I did a pretty good job, but my garage remained a pit of despair. I’ve held on to multiple boxes of sentimental items, including our wedding china, but that’s not really the issue. No, the issue is that despite my best intentions and efforts to purge and let go, I still clung to quilts, comforters, blankets, linens, clothes, and all manner of household items I simply don’t use. A couple of weeks ago, I went into the garage with the goal of sorting through one bag/box/container a day. Good grief, the stuff I’ve hung on to. It’s appalling.

There’s a quilt that hasn’t been used, at all, for at least 7 years. What was I thinking to move that? There were three handbags stashed slyly out of sight, because purses are my drug of choice. There was a box of Christmas wrapping supplies sternly marked “Use by December 2013 or recycle!” None of them have been used in almost two years — I forgot I even had them.

I’ve realized that a big part of the garage problem I have is that I fear lack. I fear letting go of something in case I (or a family member) need it in the future and are unable to buy a new whatever-it-is. And in the present that means I’m aggravated by the state of my garage; can’t find the just-in-case-items if I do need them; and have completely forgotten what I was storing.

Gah, it never ends.

I don’t have a desperate need for my garage to be pristine or used for any purpose beyond storage right now, but I do think getting it more organized and efficient is important. My giant box of divorce-related paperwork is a mess. If I have to dig something up from that abyss, it would take an entire weekend. There are a number of things that I will probably keep for the rest of my life and I’ve made my peace with most of it. At some point I may offer up the china to my kids and extended family. If none of them want it, I’m almost okay with donating it. Every-frickin’-thing else needs to have a purpose in my life or move on to someone else who can use it.

Living in fear of not having enough spatulas is absurd.

I’m Disinclined to Acquiesce to Your Request


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It’s been over a year since my last contact with my almost former mother-in-law, via a bizarre message she left on my answering machine about Christmas (in March). The last time I actually spoke to her was December 2012 and the last time I saw her was December 2011.

She hasn’t contacted or acknowledged any of the kids since 2012.

So of course she randomly emailed me this weekend with “The past is the past, let’s be friends.”

Knowing how she treated me when we were “family” I can only surmise that she would slit my throat and dump my body in the desert if we were “friends.”

No, thanks. I have no interest in playing the dead body on an episode of “Dateline.”


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